Wednesday, October 25, 2006

How do I make wine?

This is a full write up with step by step information on making wine,I may miss certain aspects, but I will do my best. Wine making is a wonderful hobby, especially when you can tell your friends that you have made that wine, that you are serving at the dinner table. The basic overview of wine making in steps goes like this: Mix your must together, that is everything you want in you recipe- it can be grapes, fruits, bananas, pretty much anything natural with no preservatives. Once you have your must made you will transfer it to your carboy and add yeast. Your airlock will be placed on top of the carboy and filled with a sanitizer and the mixture will ferment for a range of time. The next step is to transfer that to the second carboy and let it sit, do this multiple times, waiting around 3 weeks to a month between each time until you bottle your wine.

The first thing I would like to do is go over is supplies and step by step instructions on what to do after your wine is made, then I will go over a recipe that I am currently trying to perfect. There are tons of supplies you can have and use in the wine making process. The basics are as follows:

Glass Carboys (6 gallons and 5 gallons)
Auto Siphon
Sanitizer (one step,bleach,ammonia whatever you want to use)
Bottling Bucket
Racking Cane
Rubber Stopper
Air Lock

All of this can be bought at a local home brew shop or online- if you are new to the hobby and just starting out I recommend buying a kit, If you don't know where to buy kits I will provide the necessities for a small fee, I have tons of this stuff available.

Once you have made your must this will be the process you use to let the wine ferment out and finish into the bottle. You will have to cool your must (if boiled like in the recipe below) as quickly as possible. You can't add anything to cool it like ice, you simply have to place the pot of hot wine mixture (must) into a pool of cold water, a sink full of ice, or a swimming pool works well in the summer. As soon as the must is cool enough around 100 degrees you will transfer the must into your glass carboy.
Make sure everything is sanitized* at this point, that is the worst mistake you can make in wine making. To use an auto-siphon* you place the thicker end into the pot with the must* and attach the tubing to the opposite end, the tubing then travels to the racking cane which will be placed into the glass carboy. With one to three full pumps you will have a steady stream of your must into the glass carboy, it is very helpful if the must is placed higher (on a table or stool) than the glass carboy. Making sure the must is is cooled to about 90-95 degrees or less so you can add your yeast. (Yeast is a whole other subject, there are tons of different kinds in wine making, I will use a specific kind of champagne yeast in the recipe that follows.)
After the yeast is added place your airlock* on top attached to the rubber stopper. Fill the airlock with a vodka, rubbing alcohol, or just plain water, the only thing this does is prevent air from getting into the wine and infecting it. Now the wine will start to produce alcohol. Within the next twelve to twenty-four hours you will notice your air lock bubbling. The yeast may also make a circle on top of the wine mixture. Place this somewhere you will forget about it and check on it periodically. Once the bubbling has stopped completely, about a month or so later, you will use the same process with the auto siphon as you did to transfer your must into the carboy, but you will be placing the wine in the 6 gallon carboy into the 5 gallon carboy. Again you will want the 6 gallon carboy to be higher than the 5 gallon carboy to transfer the liquid faster. What this does is removed the sediment from your wine. While it was fermenting for the month all of the stuff in the wine and the yeast will fall to the bottom.You are taking the liquid out from the top and leaving the sediment in the bottom. If you have about half an inch of nasty sediment and wine in the bottom of the 6 gallon carboy that is no problem. You will transfer the wine from carboy to carboy letting it sit for a month each time, this is clarifying your wine tremendously and aging it as well.
Once you are satisfied with how clear your wine is it is time to bottle. 5 gallons of wine will fill about 48-750 ml bottles- that's 48 bottles that are 750ml each. You need to again use the auto siphon and siphon your wine out of whatever carboy it is in and into a bucket with a spigot on the bottom. This is your bottling bucket*. It is now time to bottle your wine. Once the bottling bucket is completely full of your wine you can place a sanitized bottle under the spigot and let it fill up. Next you will take your corker* and place the cork into the bottle, it helps if you dip the cork in a sanitizer although never soak your corks.
that's almost simple it, after your must was made of course. Are you now sitting there wondering exactly how to make that must? Here is a simple banana recipe to make roughly 5 gallons with an ABV of around 15%.

The Recipe:
This is my banana recipe that I am still trying to perfect. You may be thinking bananas and alcohol won't mix, but you are wrong. It actually ferments out most of the banana taste so its not that bad. You will need a few things to start.

A huge kettle, as in at least 6.5 gallons or more.
Stove- large and powerful
Bananas- 5-10 hoards of 5 or 6 bananas, so about 30-60 ripe bananas.
15 lbs. sugar
5 cups of orange juice

The first thing you need to do is cut up all of the bananas and place the skins and everything into the nylons. You can discard the ends of the bananas as well as the stickers. You should come up with about three big nylons full of bananas. Fill up the kettle with 4.5 - 5 gallons of water. Now place the bananas into the water like tea-bags, make sure you either tie them shut or have the ends hang out over the edge so you don't lose them. Now turn on the stove and set it to high, wait a good two hours to get the water to actually boil, then wait another 30 minutes so the bananas really get the flavor out. The longer you wait, the more flavor will come out. Now you can stir in the 5 cups of orange juice and slowly, a bag at a time, add the sugar. Make sure you are stirring well, it may also help to remove the bananas before adding the sugar so you can stir better. You can place the bananas in a separate kettle and let them cool, extracting any of the juice you can, or just throw them out now. I recommend letting them cool and squeezing out the banana juice and adding it back to your boil. Once all of your sugar is fully melted you can turn off the kettle and start the cooling process. Most likely your kettle will be too big to place in a sink of cold water so it would be best to have a swimming pool or kiddie pool full of ice that you can place your kettle in as soon as possible. It would be best if you could cool your must within 15 minutes to a half hour. Once the must is cooled to around 90-95 degrees it is safe to use the auto siphon and transfer it to the glass carboy. You will then add the yeast, the yeast is the most important part of wine making. You can't go out and buy just any yeast, there are specific yeasts used in the making of wines, breads, and beer. I used a champagne yeast for this recipe-Red Star Pasteur Champagne, it comes in a yellow packet. That's pretty much it, just follow the directions above on the finishing part of wine making. If you have questions, and I know you do, leave a comment.


Must- Wine before yeast has been added, it will contain no alcohol, and be very sweet in taste.
Sanitized- Keeping everything clean is very important, this is where your one-step will come into work.
Auto-Siphon- A pump used in moving liquids from carboy to carboy.
Airlock- a device that is placed into the top of your glass carboy with a liquid in the airlock, the airlock will let CO2 come out of the carboy, but not in.
Bottling Bucket- A bucket with a on and off style spigot near the bottom, this allows you to fill your bottles without making such a mess.
Corker- There are many different forms of corking devices, I bought mine for 5 dollars, it's very hard to use but it works, I recommend a two handed one.

- Something to remember, the alcohol is produced when the yeast eats the sugars in the must. The more sugar you have in your recipe the higher your ABV will be.

A side note on using a hydrometer- If you want to know your ABV its a fairly simple process. You will need a tube of your wine that is bigger than your hydrometer. You can purchase these with your hydrometer. You place the hydrometer into the wine in the tube and take a reading. It will give you an S.G. Specific Gravity- how much sugar is in your must. It will also tell you the percentage of possible alcohol in the must- more sugar, higher S.G., higher alcohol content. Once you have added your yeast, they will eat the sugar, producing alcohol. The next time you take a hydrometer reading, after the airlock has stopped bubbling, it should read about 0% alcohol, meaning it is done fermenting and ready to age and be clarified.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

A five gallon batch (banana)

I recently made a five gallon batch of banana wine, it should come out to be about 13-15% ABV and here is how I went about it.

I researched a recipe and it was only one gallon so I had to come up with my own.

Those are the main ingredients for the wine, about 10 lbs of bananas 15 lbs of sugar and some nylons, I dont have the orange juice that I used in this picture, but I also included 5 cups of
orange juice.

Pictured here are all of the bananas cut up, skins and all, and placed into the nylons. Tie them at the top and leave a tail of nylon about a foot or two long that you can tie to the side of the pot or something above it.

Now I tied the nylons to somehting above my pot and placed the water on high and waited. I actually waited for a total of an hour and a half to get all five gallons of water to boil. If you only have a five gallon carboy you should only place about four gallons of water into the pot because adding the sugar will increase the volume greatly. I have a 6.5 gallon carboy and in the end it was almost completly full.

The orange juice.

Adding the orange juice- your water and mixture should almost be at a boil at this point.

After the very slow boil starts you will get a foam- you can boil the bananas for as long as you want from here on out, mine were in the water for a total of two hours and about 45 mins of that time the temperature was at about 200 degrees F.

At this point you can remove the bananas and place them into another pot, let them drain and collect the juice, if you want you can even mash them around in the nylons once they have cooled and extract more juice, add that back into your large pot. Next you want to stir in all of the sugar, yes all 15 lbs. Pour in one bag at a time.

Here is the transfered must into the glass carboy. There are some steps that have been skipped here including: cooling the must, the stuff you made before it is fermented, I actually cooled the whole pot by dipping it into a swimming pool with the lid on very carefully. I also did not include transfering the liquid from the pot to the glass carboy of information on the airlock on the top of the carboy. The last step would be adding the yeast, if anyone is interested please comment.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Banana Wine

It actually turned out great.

Red Wine Attempt

I know this redwine will turn out to be watered down nasty junk, but everything is worth somehting. I started out by using the wrong grapes- concord- and I placed them all in the one gallon carboy and shook it to juice them then added water and boiled in a banana to make the must. I let that sit and cook over night with the airlock on and added the yeast in the morning. I'm guessing the wine isn't going to taste good at all since it was my first try, is very watered down, and I used the wrong grapes. Oh well you have to start somewhere.

The First Writeup

Now most of you have probably stumbled apon this, because I have left my link in an email, you somehow found my link somewhere else, or hopefully googled homebrew and already have an interest in winemaking; therefore you are already intrigued by the idea. If that is the case it should be simple for me to hold your attention.

I started making wine about three months ago when I saw a program about the illegals of moonshiners, I found it very interesting and searched around and now I have my own little micro winery in my house. I am hoping to provide insight on winemaking to you fellow winemakers.

If you are seriously interested in winemaking, I suggest you buy a kit. It will include everything you will need to create your own brew. I went to my local antique store and found just what I was looking for rather than buying a kit.

The Basics

- 6 gallon carboy ( could be plastic or glass )
- 5 gallon carboy ( also plastic or glass )
- Airlock and Stopper
- Hydrometer
- Cleanser
- Auto-Siphon
- Bottling bucket

This is my basic setup- on the left is my 6 (6.5) gallon carboy beside that to the right is the 5 gallon carboy, on the top shelf with the black spigot coming out of the bucket is my bottling bucket. There are also 1 gallon glass carboys ( for experimental wine products ) and a jar of cleanser. Most of this stuff can be picked up at your local homebrew shop or any online sites.

There are tons of different things that you can buy to support your wine making.

The Spoils

To put it simply, you can be the talk of the party because you are the one supplying the best tasting wine everyone there has ever had. From left to right in the first picture I have Maple/Banana/Pineapple wine, Apple Cider, and Banana wine. By far I think the banana wine tastes the best. If I can get just one person interested in learning more about this process I will keep posting in depth and answer specific questions if needed. Happy Wine Making.